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Let's Talk Music for Grand Battement

Let's Talk Music for Grand Battement

So here's the thing, I LOVE grand battement! It's probably my most favourite movement of class. I love the energy of it. I love the power of it. I love the clear musical accent of it!

My love of GB probably stems back to my 'childhood' (doesn't everything?!) of being a ballet accompanist. There are so many subtleties in the movements of ballet that I needed to learn, the clarity and directness of GB was such a breath of fresh air for me as a beginner ballet accompanist!

Words describing Grand Battement

Sharp, strong, accented, precise, powerful, throwing, tossing, controlled, lifted, reaching, stretching, etc.

With awesome words like these, the music has got to be incredible! It needs to emulate all or at least some of these qualities! So, here is the not conclusive, though quite comprehensive, list of awesome music for grand battement!

Great Music for Grand Battement and WHY!

  • March: That's right! A 4/4 march or 6/8 march (great for GB on the '&').  These marches are solid and clear. The dancer count is strong and accented! The music is precise and powerful. The march is pure perfection for the attack of the GB. However, if you're also concerned about the controlled lowering of the leg, this is not really the music you want to use! The draw of the next dancer count (COMING RIGHT AFTER THE '&') is going to rush your dancers along too quickly for them to think about that and apply it well.
  • Polonaise: The polonaise is a wonder in and of itself! It's got power, accents, strength, precision, sharpness... AND it's a magical unicorn in the triple meter family; it's got 3 beats, but it feels like a march! What the?!?! That's right. The polonaise is a triple meter piece of music with 3 beats in each measure. This is beyond brilliant for GB because your dancers have time to throw the leg and arrive up on the the beat 1, but then they have TIME to control the lowering of the leg by reaching and stretching in beat 2. Then, on beat 3 they 'simply' close. The beauty of a 3 beats should NEVER be overlooked! The fact that there is a 3rd pulse between dancer counts is a gift, a treasure and should be used wisely!
  • Waltz: Finally, the waltz makes a wonderful grand battement because, one of the key features of a waltz is a strong beat 1 and softer beats 2 and 3. That strong beat 1 should be the accent at the top of the grand battement and the beats 2 and 3 are lowering and closing of the leg. Now, unlike the polonaise, which is more moderate tempo, the waltz is generally quicker and will drive your students legs to move faster!

Thoughts to Consider

  • What is the point/purpose of your exercise? Is it about the musical attack and being at the top of the GB on time? Is it about the control of the leg as it is lowered? Is it about cardio and keeping that leg moving? Is it about a build-up for allegro? These kinds of questions should guide your music choice. 
  • Do you want your dancers' legs up on the count, or up on the '&'? This makes a difference because you'll need to be much more cognizant of the music you're thinking of using. You can have a waltz with a great pick up, or you can have a march with a great pick up. The waltz will give your dancers more time than the march because of that magical 3rd beat!  The polonaise is ALL about the counts since it is part of a special group of music that you use that is counted as a 6 count phrase! Those dancer counts are all powerful, but there is no pick up for you in this music.  
  • How pretty do you want it? Seriously.. lol. Well, kind of. If you've got some pretty heads and port de bras, you will likely want to use the waltz since the music, in general, is more inclined to prettiness! lol.

That is the grand battement music in a nutshell. Enjoy creating and playing around with different music types and styles because you'll discover that they lend a totally different quality to the movements, or at least they should, if your dancers are listening!

If you found that you this was a great little read and you love learning, make sure you check out my brand new course; The Official Music Training Course for Ballet Teachers! It's all of this and much more!  Think university course, but learn at your own speed (on computer or app) with lifetime access to it. It includes music recordings by yours truly which you are lead to count to as a musician and a ballet teacher!  This course guides you to understand, count, hear and use 20 different standard music styles relevant to the ballet teacher and studio!  There is so much more awesomeness in there, but you need to check out the information page to learn more!


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